Graves and Rouzer Introduce Bill to Streamline Disaster Recovery Assistance

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U.S. Congressmen Garret Graves and David Rouzer have introduced the Natural Disaster Recovery Program Act to expedite disaster recovery funding to impacted communities. The bill will improve the recovery process in both the short and long term, resiliency, infrastructure repairs, housing, mitigation, and economic revitalization following disasters.

Multiple official reports and personal experience in Louisiana have shown that the current federal disaster recovery processes take several years to get people back in their homes, businesses reopened and communities back to normal. The current system is so complicated and bureaucratic that contractors paid to comply with federal regulations and administer recovery programs end up making hundreds of millions of dollars while disaster victims and taxpayers get shortchanged.

The Graves-Rouzer bill would instead create an unmet needs block grant program under the Federal Emergency Management Agency to send immediate assistance to states impacted by federally declared disasters. States and local governments would be empowered with the decision-making capability to decide where to spend disaster dollars and get money out the door and into the community faster.

“Everyone in Louisiana knows that someone a thousand miles away in Washington, DC is too far removed to be directing disaster recovery. Our legislation empowers the recovery process at the local level rather than waiting on bureaucrats and contractors who get paid by the page and minute to shift paperwork,” Graves said. “The federal government continues to repeat the same mistake when it comes to natural disasters: a failure to respond quickly – all because of continued red tape and bureaucratic log jams. This bill fixes that. Folks shouldn’t have to wait years for recovery dollars while trying to get their homes, businesses, churches, or other community cornerstones back up and running. Our communities should come back stronger and much more quickly as a result of this legislation.”

“Under the current Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program, disaster survivors may wait years for recovery dollars,” Rouzer said. “This is largely due to the overly bureaucratic process governing the program at the federal level. The result is long delays, which means long gaps between the end of short-term disaster recovery programs from FEMA and SBA and the start of long-term recovery programs.  This time gap leaves survivors in the lurch, prolonging their suffering and hampering the full recovery of individuals, families and their communities as they wait months or years for disaster assistance. It is time to scrap the CDBG-DR program and replace it with a simple block grant allowing states and localities to properly address the unique needs of disaster survivors.”

Graves has worked around the clock to get upcoming legislation right so that when future disasters hit, the government isn’t adding fuel to the bureaucratic fire. Utilizing a simple, streamlined block grant is a move in the right direction for our disaster victims and will save money.